Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Easy, scenic trail suggestions for a newbie
Display Avatars Sort By:
Brian Pendley
Easy, scenic trail suggestions for a newbie on 03/21/2013 17:07:13 MDT Print View

I usually push my wife too hard & then game over, so I want to create good memories so we'll be hiking years from now. We want to do several weekend backpacking trips this spring to build up to a 2-week trip this summer. We live in northern CA. The weekend trips would be 5-10 miles in, camp, then return. The summer trip probably 150 miles. We're thinking of basin trail in Big basin SP: East bay skyline ridge trail, Castro Valley; & Kennedy Meadows near Strawberry (when the snow melts). And then this summer we will hike PCT from Sonora Pass to Donner Pass. Would that be better than from Yosemite to Echo Lake? We'd love to hear your ideas.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
hmmmm on 04/01/2013 11:42:02 MDT Print View

Hmmm, I'm not sure which of the two I'd pick - Sonora to Donner or Tuolumne to Echo. You are choosing between northern Yosemite vs. the Desolation/Granite Chief Wildernesses. Both areas are very nice. Depends on what you want from your trip. That part of Yosemite offers incredible solitude. Desolation/Granite Chief have no solitude, but a thousand different lakes to enjoy, and of course great views of Tahoe.

The stretch from Tuolumne to Sonora Pass is a fairly long way without resupply. It's also a lot of up-and-down. If you do that section, save it for last. (So: hike north-to-south from Echo.) You'll be strong, can hike longer miles, and therefore carry a bit less food weight in the Sonora-Tuolumne stretch.

Desolation/Granite Chief Wildernesses in some ways are a better pick for newbie backpackers. There are bail-out points. With all the lakes and side trails, you can schedule your hike with some flexiblity - e.g. camp-to-camp today is 5 miles, but if we have extra energy that day we'll drop our packs at mile 5 anyway, and then go for a day-hike exploring one of the side trails/lakes. So, I suppose I'd go north-to-south if I were doing that option, just so I could start with the flexibility in the Desolation/Granite Chief areas.

For your overnighters: Kennedy Meadows is not a particularly pretty hike IMO. Start at Gianelli Cabin, also in Desolation Wilderness but a slightly shorter drive. Lots of charming lakes and meadows in there right off the bat. And, speaking as someone else who lives in East Bay, I do not find the campground at Chabot charming at all. Consider overnighting at Point Reyes, Butano State Park, Ventana Wilderness, or even Henry Coe.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
hmmm hmmm on 04/01/2013 18:00:09 MDT Print View

+1 on Gianelli trailhead - nicer stuff sooner and way fewer horses/mules than Kennedy

Also +1 Echo to Tuolumne, in that direction. Far fewer people, very interesting variety of terrain, geology, & vegetation.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Emmigrant Wilderness on 04/02/2013 17:08:23 MDT Print View

If your goal is a through-hike, it's not going to make a huge difference between trailhead---in 150 miles, the first three don't really matter much.

But that said, Why not start at Sonora Pass and just head north from there?

As an additional thought...150 is a long trip for most people, and it would be a good idea to get a few medium length trips under your belt. To go from 5-10 miles to 150 is a huge leap.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
big basin on 04/04/2013 04:40:38 MDT Print View

If you are considering big basin as a warm up trip, I would highly recomend the Sunset loop. You will see several nice waterfalls along the way, and one good stretch is walking along a creek.

Big Basin was my first backpacking trip, and even with a rain/hail storm, I couldn't have been more hooked. Get your reservation early though, Sunset can be hard to get.

Start at Park HQ, take sunset trail to sunset camp. Then take the skyline to sea trail back to HQ. If memory serves, it's about 6 miles each day.
There are a few connector trails from HQ to the trails I mentioned, but they aren't hard to figure out if you get ahold of a map.

I like loops, because the second day is still a day of exploration. Not a day of, how long till we get back to the car, I already saw all this...

P.S. Big basin is beautiful, one of my favorite parks. Due to life events lately, I haven't been on an overnight there in years. If you want company, let me know, I need an excuse to go back ;)

Edited by stingray4540 on 04/04/2013 04:53:40 MDT.

Brian Pendley
Easy, scenic trail suggestions for a newbie on 04/18/2013 09:26:23 MDT Print View

I checked this thread for a week & let it go. I just saw your responses. Thank you.
We decided to go from Sonora Pass to Donner Pass. I had Big Basin on the radar, but will have to add others to it. Where is Gianilli cabin?

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Easy, scenic trail suggestions for a newbie on 04/18/2013 12:25:56 MDT Print View

Sounds like you already decided what you're plan is, but I thought I'd chime in to re-iterate some of your ideas, and ideas suggested by others...

Short Hikes:
- Big Basin : Sunset Trail Loop : Done it, very nice hike among the woods and waterfalls. Sunset Camp is nice. 12 mile loop.
- Point Reyes : Palomarin to Wild Cat : Done it, very nice hike along the coast with varied flora. Wild Cat camp is awesome. Alamere falls is just down the beach. 5½ miles each way.
- Tuolumne Meadows : Budd Lake & Echo Lake : Done it, the hike is along an unmaintained but well traveled use trail to Budd Lake, then cross country for a short (and easy to navigate) bit to Echo Lake. The views are spectacular. I don't think Echo is more than 5 miles in.

I'd second the thought of NOT jumping from 10 miles to 100+ miles. How about a medium length hike first to test the waters? The Rae Lakes loop would be great (and challenging). I could suggest a more mild, but still very legit ~50 mile loop in Lassen that I've done with my wife... but it's a bit much to go into here.

Edited by JacobD on 04/18/2013 16:44:07 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Easy, scenic trail suggestions for a newbie on 04/18/2013 12:29:44 MDT Print View

Echo Lake from ridge above Budd Lake

Above Echo Lake